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Posts published in “Day: June 14, 2008”

Republicans in convention: Close split

The non-establishment and the establishment split the votes at the Idaho Republican convention at Sandpoint. The establishment won more votes, but the outsiders won the big one, for state party chair.

That was where the line seemed drawn most clearly, between the grassroots, represented for purposes of this election by former congressional candidate Norm Semanko, and the downtown establishment crowd, represented by Kirk Sullivan.

From the Spokesman-Review's blog: Semanko is "currenlty telling the delegation that they must uphold conservative Republican principles and elect Republicans and get seats back to the U.S. House. Semanko thanked Kirk Sullivan for his years of service and added that he 'likes Kirk' and it was about rallying and building a relationship with the grassroots Republicans, not just the establishment."

At the same time, the establishment won a key vote on open v. closed party primaries, getting the convention floor to stick with open primaries. (What the central committee, the final policy maker for the party, will have to say about that is unclear.) And National Committeeman Blake Hall, challenged by former state Senator Rod Beck (who had been the challenger to Sullivan before Semanko entered that contest), survived, but apparently narrowly.

More evidence at this convention of splintering among Idaho Republicans than since 1990. Not that this is a prescription for 1990-type results (that being the best year Idaho Democrats have seen since 1958), but it does give pause.

Blackwater, on table

The proposal for Idaho's police office training organization to contract with Blackwater International (see our earlier post) is apparently on hold at least, and possibly derailed.

This week's meeting of the Idaho POST (Police Officers Standards and Training) Council led to a tabling of the proposed agreement. There were anti-Blackwater protesters outside the meeting, but more decisive may have been expressions of concern from area law enforcement leaders. Take note of the end of the Spokane Spokesman-Review story on this:

Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson said that was his understanding after speaking to Blackwater representatives. Watson said he was told the center would be built on 300-plus acres between Coeur d’Alene and Worley and the first phase of construction would cost more than $20 million.

The representative “made it very clear it was a military training facility,” Watson said. He suggested Blackwater was trying to attach itself to local law enforcement in an attempt to make it easier to locate in North Idaho.

“As sheriff, I don’t want my officers going to that facility just because of public perception,” Watson said. “Our reputation is important to us. I don’t know if Blackwater did everything that was reported in the media. They’ve now obtained the reputation.”